NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam could become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
In interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports that were published Sunday, Sam said he came out to all his teammates and coaches at Missouri in August.
“I am an openly, proud gay man,” he said.
Sam will participate in the NFL combine later this month in Indianapolis and is currently projected to be a mid-round draft pick in May.
Sam has received plenty of support from celebrities, fellow players and media members, and now he has the support of an NFL owner.
“Michael Sam is a gifted athlete and a courageous man,” Giants co-owner Steve Tisch told TMZ Sports. “I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team.”
Giants co-owner John Mara echoed Tisch’s sentiment.
“Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy,” Mara said. “You earn your way with your ability. As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael’s announcement will not affect his position on our draft board.”
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month after leading the Southeastern Conference in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (19). He was the SEC defensive player of the year.
“It’s a big deal,” Sam told ESPN. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
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